Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Citigroup Seeks Advice From HP

In what is perhaps the most curious headline in the financial news today, Citigroup is asking HP for advice on reviving its fortunes. Apparently, Citigroup sees similarities between its current situation and HP's back in 2005 when Carly Fiorina, the former CEO was forced out and replaced by Mark Hurd. Although I only report what I read in the financial press, I can only surmise how the conversation went after Vikram Pandit dialed Mark Hurd's number:

Pandit: Hello Mark? This is Vikram Pandit.

Hurd: Who?

Pandit: Vikram Pandit, the CEO of Citigroup.

Hurd: I think you have the wrong number. This is Hewlett-Packard, the computer company in Silicon Valley.

Pandit: Yes, yes. I know. I want to talk to you about fixing some of the problems we're having with the bank.

Hurd: I don't need a loan or a new credit card.

Pandit: No, no. You misunderstand. I'm looking for advice on how to get through this difficult time without breaking up the company.

Hurd: Hmmmm. Did I mention we're a computer company?

Pandit: I know. I'm just looking for general strategy.

Hurd: Maybe you should introduce a new line of ink jet cartridges. The margins are great. Oh, wait. Nevermind. Forget I said that! The margins are terrible. You should maybe try to spin off a business or two? Then you could charge yourself some investment banking fees and book them as revenues!

Pandit: But you didn't spin anything off.

Hurd: True, true. Maybe what you need to do is telegraph the fact that you are fairly certain, although not entirely, that the credit crisis may possibly, although not definitely, be nearing an end?

Pandit: Oh yes! Yes of course! What should I say?

Hurd: Make a good sports analogy. Like we're entering the fourth quarter.

Pandit: I think Blankfein already said that.

Hurd: Have you tried baseball?

Pandit: Morgan Stanley's Mack already talked about being in the final inning.

Hurd: What about the third period of a hockey game?

Pandit: Nobody watches hockey. What if I just say we're more than half way through the credit crisis?

Hurd: Weak, but it's better than nothing.

Pandit: Would you be interested in making an investment in our esteemed firm?

Hurd: Um no. And stop sending me all those damn credit card offers.

1 comment:

Oscar said...

Hurd: "Once you get rid of the woman driving the car, the problems fix themselves, Vikram."

Pandit: "There aren't any women in finance, Mark."

Hurd: "Wow, and you still botched things that badly? Yikes!"